REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE: DARK

CAST

Matt Rayan (Constantine)
Jason O’Mara (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Camilla Luddington (The Pact 2)
Nicholas Turturro (Zookeeper)
Ray Chase (Kingslaive)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
JB Blanc (Breaking Bad)
Roger Cross (Arrow)
Colleen Villard (The Avengers: EMH)
Jerry O’ Connell (Sliders)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Jeremy Davies (Sleepy Hollow)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

All over the world, people suddenly begin panicking as they start to see everyone around them as demonic monsters and end up killing innocents before members of the Justice League stop them. Deliberating about this strange outbreak, most of the League’s members come to the conclusion that magic must be involved in this. Despite his own past experiences with magic, Batman expresses his skepticism and walks out; but as he returns to Wayne Manor to rest, he finds the word “Constantine” written all over the walls.
In a flashback, occultist John Constantine and Jason Blood – engaged the Demons Three in a poker game in Las Vegas for high-end stakes, even offering his home, the House of Mystery, as his part of the pool in exchange for a box of artifacts, including one called the Dreamstone. However, both parties cheated at the game, and when Constantine exposed the Demons’ trickery, they attacked him. Constantine unleashed Jason’s alter ego, the demon Etrigan, who defeated the Demons Three, but not before they swore revenge on him.
Batman visits Zatanna after one of her performances and begins to ask about Constantine. Deadman possesses Batman and tells Zatanna she needs to see John. Zatanna brings Batman to Constantine. The trio narrowly manage to get inside John’s house in time where they are joined by Black Orchid. The group gathers to share information, and after a quick discussion and some argument between John and Zatanna, form a team to investigate the cause and reason for these supernatural occurrences.
The heroes visits a friend of Constantine and Zatanna’s named Ritchie Simpson, but outside the house they find shroud spirits of Death waiting to collect Ritchie’s soul upon his upcoming demise. The team is granted entry by Simpson, who is suffering from a magical cancer and resentful of Constantine for abandoning him to his fate but loans them the Keshanti Key. Constantine and Zatanna look through a man’s memories for the cause of his frenzy, and discover that he was possessed. Batman, Deadman, Constantine, and Zatanna narrowly manage to escape from a conjured beast as the creature consumes its victim, and Zatanna proceeds to destroy the monster.
Returning to Ritchie’s home to identify the ring from the man’s memory, the team finds him about to die with Blood nearby. Batman revives Ritchie with an adrenaline shot to the chest, but he quickly falls into a coma. After being brought to the House of Mystery for interrogation, Blood tells the team that he did not attempt to hurt Ritchie, but was looking for a way into the House of Mystery to find the Dreamstone; created by a sinister magician naming himself Destiny. Ritchie awakens and names Felix Faust as his assailant before falling back asleep.
The group locate Faust’s observatory with help from Swamp Thing. When they infiltrate Faust’s lair, the wizard battles the team, but is ultimately defeated by Zatanna; however, Faust is found to have no involvement in hurting Ritchie. Ritchie awakens and is revealed to have the other piece of the Dreamstone; using it to keep his cancer in remission, but then he is seemingly killed when the Dreamstone brings Destiny back to life. Destiny declares himself a god, destroys the House and departs to sink the United States into chaos; Zatanna saves the group, but passes out from the exertion. The Justice League tries to fight Destiny, but he makes them perceive each other as demonic threats. Etrigan attacks Destiny, but is separated back into Jason Blood and Etrigan. Constantine summons Swamp Thing, who agrees to fight Destiny, while Batman and the recovered Zatanna disable the Justice League.
Constantine tricks Destiny into bringing him and Deadman within his protective shield, allowing Deadman to wound Destiny, before Constantine, Batman, and Blood destroy the Dreamstone and Destiny’s body, leaving Ritchie, whose soul is dragged to Hell by the shroud spirits. Right afterwards, Blood succumbs to his mortal wound from centuries before. Zatanna, Constatine and Etrigan bury Blood’s body near the place of his old village, before Etrigan leaves for parts unknown. Zatanna agrees to join the Justice League, while Constantine declines (knowing Batman won’t approve if he did). The two return to the now-rebuilt House of Mystery, taking a first tentative step to restoring their fractured relationship, and Deadman likewise joins the restored Black Orchid as her soulmate.It’s refreshing to see a simpler, more straightforward, yet still effectively intriguing story-telling pace set by DC’s animated feature titles. JLD continues the trend of it’s predecessor, excelling at brief but complete introductions to some of DC’s more obscure characters, bringing them out of the shadows. The use of the overly popular Batman is very fitting here and die-hard and new fans should find a bunch to like. Animation is solid, the voice-casting is even better.And it’s great to see Matt Ryan back as Constantine.

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REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 1-10

CAST

Tom Welling (The Fog)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and the Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Urban Legend)
Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon)
Sam Jones III (Glory Road)
Allison Mack (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies)
Annette O’ Toole (IT)
John Schneider (Desperate Housewives)
John Glover (Robocop 2)
Erica Durance (The Butterfly Effect 2)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Aaron Ashmore (The Skulls 2)
Justin Hartley (Chuck)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Cassidy Freeman (Yellowbrickroad)
Sam Witwer (Being Human)
Callum Blue (Dead Like Me)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Sarah-Jane Redmond (V)
Chad Donella (Final Destination)
Gabrielle Rose (Catch and Release)
Jason Connery (Wishmaster 3)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Mitchell Kosterman (White Noise)
Michael Coristine (Get Over It)
Eric Christian Olsen (Tru Calling)
Jackie Burroughs (The Dead Zone)
George Murdock (Star Trek V)
Amy Adams (Batman V Superman)
Malcolm Stewart (Timecop)
Joe Morton (Terminator 2)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
Kelly Brook (The Italian Job)
Azura Skye (Red Dragon)
Rick Peters (Veronica Mars)
Kevin McNulty (Elektra)
Tom O’Brien (The Accused)
Shawn Ashmore (X-Men)
Kavan Smith (Stargate SG.1)
Evangeline Lilly (Lost)
Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can’t Lose)
Cameron Dye (Valley Girl)
Eric Breker (Walking Tall)
Jud Tyler (That 70s Show)
Nicki Clyne (Saved)
Ryan Kelley (Teen Wolf)
Brandy Ledford (Andromeda)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (Wolf Creek: The Series)
Marguerite Moreau (Easy)
Shonda Farr (Crossroads)
Adam Brody (The OC)
Kevan Ohtsji (Godzilla)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Krista Allen (The Final Destination)
Sara Downing (Roswell)
Sean Faris (The Brotherhood 2)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Gwynyth Walsh (Star Trek: Generations)
Maggie Lawson (Two and a Half Men)
George Coe (The Entity)
Richard Gant (Rocky V)
Neil Grayston (Wonderfalls)
Patrick Cassidy (Lois & Clark)
Martin Cummins (Dark Angel)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Imporvement)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Tamara Feldman (Hatchet)
Gordon Tootoosis (Legends of The Fall)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Adrianne Palicki (Agents of Shield)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Jill Teed (Highlander: The Series)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Rob LaBelle (Jack Frost)
Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries)
Cristopher Reeve (Superman: The Movie)
Camille Mitchell (Caprica)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Michael Adamthwaite (Sucker Punch)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Fast and Furious 3)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Terence Stamp (Superman 1 & 2)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Francoise Yip (Robocop: Prime Directives)
Jesse Metcalfe (Dallas)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Christopher Shyer (V)
John DeSantis (The New Addams Family)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Lorena Gale (Battlestar Galactica)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Michael Dangerfield (Catwoman)
Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries)
Missy Peregrym (Heroes)
Meghan Ory (Dark Angel)
Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3)
Sarah Carter (D.O.A.)
Lynda Boyd (Power Rangers In Space)
Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica)
Gary Hudson (Mutant X)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Nathaniel Arcand (Pathfinder)
Amber Rothwell (Andromeda)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Margot Kidder (The Amityville Horror)
Ona Grauer (V)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Amanda Walsh (Disturbia)
Kyle Gallner (Veronica Mars)
Trent Ford (The Island)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Derek Hamilton (Ripper)
Peyton List (The Flash)
Chris Carmack (Into The Blue 2)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Nolan Gerard Funk (Arrow)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Beatrice Rosen (Chasing Liberty)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Jonathan Bennett (Veronica Mars)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Steven Grayhm (White Chicks)
David Orth (The Lost World)
James Marsters (Buffy)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Alana De La Garza (Scorpion)
Kenny Johnson (Bates Motel)
Johnny Lewis (Felon)
Alan Ritchson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Erica Cerra (The 100)
Brooke Nevin (Infestation)
Top Wopat (Django Unchained)
Noah Danby (Bitten)
Alisen Down (Case 39)
Adrian Holmes (Arrow)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Annie Burgstede (CSI)
Sarah Lind (Wolfcop)
Denise Quinones (Aquman 2006)
Lee Thompson Young (Flashforward)
Nichole Hiltz (Bones)
Mackenzie Gray (Man of Steel)
Emily Hirst (Blade: The Series)
Anne Marie Deluise (Goosebumps)
Callum Rennie (Legends of Tomorrow)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Alex Scarlis (8mm 2)
Jody Thompson (Flash Gordon)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
Lochlyn Munro (Little man)
Amber McDonald (Gloria)
Lucas Grabeel (Milk)
Bow Wow (Like Mike)
Dave Bautista (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Mike Dopud (Stargate Universe)
Phil Morris (Meet The Spartans)
Tori Spelling (Scary Movie 2)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
Greyston Holt (Bitten)
Benjamin Ayres (The Vampire Diaries)
Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)
Emily Holmes (Dark Angel)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
Michael Cassidy (Batman V Superman)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Kim Coates (The Amityville Curse)
Christina Milian (be Cool)
Christopher Jacot (Mutant X)
Helen Slater (Supergirl)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Elyse Levesque (Stargate Universe)
Tim Guinee (Stargate SG.1)
Marc McClure (Superman: The Movie)
Alaina Huffman (Painkiller Jane)
Gina Holden (Flash Gordon)
Anne Openshaw (The Grey)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Ari Cohen (Gangland Undercover)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Secret Circle)
Charlotte Sullivan (Defendor)
Anna Williams (Blonde and Blonder)
Kyle Schmid (Arrow)
Ryan Kennedy (Caprica)
Alexz Johnson (Devil’s Diary)
Calum Worthy (Daydream Nation)
Dario Delacio (War)
Ty Olsson (Izombie)
Alessandro Juliani (Man of Steel)
Ted Whittall (Beauty and The Beast)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Stephen Lobo (Painkiller jane)
Serinda Swan (Tron Legacy)
Connor Stanhope (American Mary)
Dominic Zamprogna (Odyssey 5)
Nels Lennarson (Sanctuary)
Brendan Flecther (Bloodrayne 3)
Anna Mae Wills (2012)
Monique Ganderton (American Ultra)
Sharon Taylor (Stargate: Atlantis)
Brian Austin Green (Termiantor: TSCC)
Steph Song (War)
Elise Gatien (Izombie)
Emilie Ullerup (Sanctuary)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Dean Cain (Lois & Clark)
Allison Scagliotti (Warehouse 13)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
David Gallagher (Super 8)
Anita Torrance (Caprica)
Pam Grier (jackie Brown)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
Brent Stait (Androemda)
Britt Irvin (V)
Wesley MacInnes (Warcraft)
Jim Shield (Final Destination 3)
Roger Haskett (Paycheck)
Ken Lawson (Descendants)
Erica Carroll (Apollo 18)
Crystal Lowe (Poison Ivy 4)
Sean Rogerson (Bitten)
Odessa Rae (Hard Candy)
Jonthan Walker (Red)
Gil Bellows (Flashforward)
Blu Mankuma (Robocop: The Series)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Cruel Intentions 2)
Bradley Stryker (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Sahar Biniaz (Watchmen)
Lexa Doig (Andromeda)
Christine Willes (Dead Like me)
Steve Byers (Mutant X)
Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark)
Lindsay Hartley (All My ChildreN)
Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galctica)
James Kidnie (Arrow)
Aleks Paunovic (Mutant X)
Sebastian Spence (First wave)
Aliyah O’Brien (If I Stay)

Maybe it is that Superman is truly indestructible or that the Man of Steel, who was picked recently as one of the Top 10 American pop culture icons, is so respected that not even Hollywood would dare tug on his cape, because “Smallville” is another successful small screen version of the strange visitor from another planet. Of course, the great irony is that this time around there is no cape to tug on because this television series is about Clark Kent, years before he put on the suit with the big red “S,” when he was still in high school, his powers were just starting to kick in, and the girl in his life with the double L name was Lana Lang.


Keep in mind that when Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel created the Man of Steel in 1939 there was no Superboy until 1949, when he began part of the futuristic Legion of Super-Heroes. All we knew about the early days is that just before the doomed planet Krypton exploded to fragments, a scientist placed his infant son within an experimental rocket ship, launching it toward earth. When the vessel reached our planet, the child was found by an elderly couple, the Kents. They adopted the super tyke and with love and guidance shaped the boy’s future. As he grew older Clark Kent learned to hurdle skyscrapers, leap an eighth of a mile, raise tremendous weights, run faster than a streamline train, and that nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin. When his foster parents passed away, Clark decided he must turn his titanic strength into channels that would benefit mankind. The key part of “Smallville” is that creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar go back to the simple beginning, with young Clark (Tom Welling) growing up on the Kent farm with Martha (Annette O’Toole) and Jonathan (John Schneider). From the “Superboy” comic books the series borrows the characters of girl next-door Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and best buddy Pete Ross (Sam Jones III). But in addition to covering the basics, Gough and Millar come up with a key triad of additions to the original Smallville mythos.


First, they add young Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) to the mix, knowing that he and Superman are fated to be (im)mortal enemies, but that for the present he and Clark are friends (after Clark saves Lex’s life in a car accident that should have killed them both). The key thing is that they truly are friends and that “Smallville” is as much about how Lex would become a super villain as it is about how Clark would become a super hero. Throw into the mix Daddy Dearest in the form of Lionel Luthor (John Glover), and Lex would have already pulled all of his hair out if it were not for what happened that fateful day in Smallville.


Second, is the brilliant reconceptualization of Superman’s arrival on earth where the small spacecraft shows up in the middle of a shower of glowing green meteors that are all that remains of the planet Krypton. As much as the little boy in that spaceship, those meteors change Smallville forever, turning a little girl into an orphans and a young boy bald, and the small Kansas town into the self proclaimed meteor capital of the world. More importantly, those little green rocks will have continue to have an impact as they cause a series of mutations with which young Clark will have to contend. This also accounts for the great in-joke that Clark always becomes a bumbling idiot around Lana because she wears a locket made of kryptonite. Third, there is the multi-purpose character of Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack). The driving force of the Smallville High School student newspaper her “Wall of the Weird” documents all the strange things that have happened around Smallville since the meteor shower, making her the show’s resident mistress of exposition.

But she is also the tragic figure who longs for Clark the way he casts puppy dog glances at Lana, creating a nice example of teenage love triangle pathos. Overall, Miller and Gough had created an extremely solid premise for their series, which creates multi-dynamics for all of the plotlines. The first season (2001) is book ended by some great special effects, with the devastating arrival of the meteors in the pilot and the three twisters becoming one in the thrilling cliffhanger finale. My only serious complaint is that Schneider’s Jonathan Kent has too much of an angry edge, which takes away from his font of parental wisdom. Martha really needs to mellow him out so that he cuts Clark some slack. I understand that Jonathan is motivated by fears and concerns about his son, but I always liked the gentle influence personified by Glenn Ford in the first Christopher Reeve “Superman” film. Turning adolescent traumas into mutant monsters of the week is a hit and miss proposition, but that was true of the first season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as well, and look at how well that series turned out. Yes, we can also throw into the mix that Clark and Lana are played by a couple of cute young actors. Welling is not too serious as the kid who is going to grow up to be the hero who stands for truth, justice, and the American way, and I was going to say Kruek was the WB’s new Katie Holmes except after her soft-core Lana scene in the school swimming pool goes way beyond the world’s biggest collection of midriff revealing tops. But the bottom line here is that either the Clark-Lana or the Clark-Lex would be enough to make this a good show and “Smallville” has both of them and a lot more, including the brilliant metaphor of the scarecrow immortalized in the DVD collection’s cover shot.

Starting a moment after the season one finale Smallville continues the story of Clark’s younger years. This season really stands out in memory, the sheer quality of the episodes is amazing, there are more memorable episodes in this series than in any other combined. Furthermore there is a movement away from “freak of the wekk” episodes, with several episodes reveolving around the characters and their backstory, not monsters and threats to them. Clark’s identity (as Kal-Ell is revealed to him, as is the fate of Krypton), Pete find oout about Clark’s secret, Red K causes havoc turning Clark into a moralless teenager, secrets about Clark’s adoption and Lex’s brother are revealed, Clark lays on his deathbed and Clark is told to leave Smallville and complete his father’s quest to rule the planet.

Along with these arks, there is the continuing storyline of Chloe and Clark, that was left hanging in Tempest, this slops both Clark and Lana coming closer as Chloe looks on sadly. Clark’s adoption is revealed to have been organised by Lionel Luthor (who is also blinded at the beginning of the season), Lionel and Lex jokel against each other as Lionel quashes Lexcorp, and Clark is appauled by the intrustions of his father. This is one of my favourite season, as it was for the viewing figures (check wiki), characters continue to eveolve and change, and leaving a fantastic cliifhanger which I won’t spoil. If you liked Season 1 you’ll love this, if you loved season 1 you’ll be overjoyed

Season 3 veers constantly between dark and light – light: Perry White arrives in Smallville – played fabulously and hilariously by Annette O’Toole’s real-life husband Michael McKean (note that they have no scenes together), the fact that Jor-El chose the Kents to raise his son; dark: Clark’s antics on Red Kryptonite resulting in serious health issues for Jonathan Kent, Lex’s forays into insanity and back again. There are mainly stand-alone stories this year, although there is the double-headed cliffhanger of Chloe’s apparent death and Clark being stripped of his humanity to be reborn as Kal-El. The actors continue to raise their game, although Sam Jones III seems to be phased out as the season progresses: a sure sign of his departure before the finale.

Also this year Terence Stamp features more prominently as “The Voice of Jor-El” – an intense presence whose determination to enforce his will over his son clashes with the mortal man who raised him. The only drawback of this season is the lingering Clark & Lana love story – will-they, won’t they is fast becoming do they have to? This DVD set features a couple of commentaries although the blooper reel doesn’t contain as many gems as the one featured on series 2. Favourite episodes: Phoenix, Extinction, Perry, Relic, Whisper, Delete, Hereafter, Crisis, Truth, Memoria & Talisman.

In this season there are no stand-alone stories as all 22 episodes provide a piece of the puzzle which is finally revealed in the finale. Tom Welling transcends his previous work on the show as he begins to build his most successful on-screen partnerships – with Allison Mack’s Chloe who returns from the dead to become privy to Clark’s powers and takes the inital steps towards becoming his sidekick and confidante, and Erica Durance’s Lois Lane who crashes into his world and turns it completely upside down.

There are sparks aplenty between Welling & Durance – her face when confronted with her naked co-star in the opening episode is priceless – but the enduring Clark & Lana storyline continues to flare so the viewers have to make do with their hilarious banter and feigned dislike of each other. The only lowlight as far as Welling is concerned this year is Clark’s bewilderment that Lana could possibly move on from him – a trait resumed in Seasons 5 and 6 as Lana moves on yet again and Clark remains stuck in the “Clana mud”. Annette O’Toole also shines this year as Martha Kent steps into the spotlight to save her son. The rest of the cast also continue to shine and the calibre of guest stars keeps on rising, particularly in the season premiere when actress Margot Kidder cameos – ironically in the same episode Smallville’s incarnation of Lois Lane is launched. Favourite episodes: Crusade, Gone, Facade, Devoted, Bound, Pariah, Recruit, Krypto, Lucy, Blank & Commencement.

In the fifth season of Smallville, one chapter ends as another new and exciting chapter begins as Smallville is taken to new heights as the DC Universe is finally blown open as new characters make their appearances felt.


In season five, Clark’s relationship with Lana is at its peak, his friendship with Chloe has never been stronger, and he is finally coming to terms with the discovery of his Kyptonian heritage. But things in Smallville are about to change with the arrival of the mysterious Milton Fine (James Marsters) along with 2 Kryptonians bearing the symbol of ZOD. Whilst his relationship with his friends has never been stronger, Clark finds himself in direct confrontation with Lex Luthor as he is now forced to question whether he and the younger Luthor were ever friends.


Alongside the great continuity drama with the regular leads, this season also sees the arrival of 2 familiar faces from the DC Universe in form of Aquaman and Cyborg who cameo in this season alongside DC villain Brainiac.


James Marsters is a very welcome addition to the cast and plays Fine with confidence and arrogance while Michael Rosenbaum continues to steal the show. The pinnacle moment of the season also sees the very sad departure of a long staning term cast member in what still rates as Smallville’s saddest moment and greatest tear-jerker.

They say timing is everything, and for me the timing of watching season 6 of Smallville for the first time was perfect. Why is that? Because this was the season that introduced their take on Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, and I got hooked on the new show about him this last season on TV.

Of course, before we can get to new characters, we have a few cliffhangers to resolve. While all kinds of chaos is reigning down on the citizens of Earth thanks to the evil force that has taken over Lex Luther’s body (Michael Rosenbaum), Clark Kent (Tom Welling) can’t do much about it since he’s trapped in the Phantom Zone. While he does escape and manage to save the day, he unwittingly releases the evil prisoners from the Phantom Zone and must spend some time tracking them down this season. As things return to normal, characters explore new options. Lois Lane (Erica Durance) and Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) become roommates and Lois starts a new career as a reporter for a tabloid. They also both get new boyfriends in the two new characters that are introduced. Lois starts dating the previously mentioned Olive Queen (Justin Hartley) while Chloe falls for Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore), a young photographer at The Daily Planet. Lana Lang (Kistin Kreuk), meanwhile, has moved in with Lex and their relationship becomes more serious when she finds out she is pregnant. Chloe learns a very surprising secret and is reunited with her mom as played by TV’s Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter.

Other storylines of the season involve Clark and Oliver’s clashes over how to use their powers for good. Lex is collecting and hiding people with abilities. Those storylines clash when we see the first glimpse of the Justice League Smallville style.
This season is really about the young adults. No one is in college any more (did they all drop out after one season or did they all graduate at lightning speed?) While Lionel Luther (John Glover) is still around being unclear in his intensions, Martha Kent (Annette O’Toole) is given very little to do. And before the season is over, one character makes an exit from the show.

Season 7 demonstrates a real maturity in terms of the characters and the wider Smallville universe. For the characters themselves we obviously have to start with Clark and Lex.

What I love about this series is that you don’t notice subtle changes that are going – its only when there is a sudden abrupt change that you realise that it had been going on for ages and you find yourself saying “Ah!”. Clark in this season is gradually waking up to the fact that his old life is practically gone – most friends and family have moved on. This really hits home with an episode that sees the (thankfully brief) return of Pete. This was a subtle episode that demonstrated that Pete and Clark are very different now – they are friends but have both moved on. Clark towards his greater destiny – Pete to his, well, lesser destiny. But the real tear jerker that forces Clark to face the changes is the video left by Lana in the series finale. Understated and brief – its all the more powerful. Lana functioned as a sort of bubble for Clark – a link back to his carefree past – her leaving all but cuts this.

For Lex – wow. Smallville always managed to avoid having him as a cartoon baddie. What really took off on this season was Lex rushing towards his destiny as the powerful enemy of the “Traveller”. We get to see the childhood of Lex and his inner struggles. The moment that he and Lionel have their final encounter – powerful stuff. But what really hits viewers is Lex’s view of what his destiny was. The link he has with the Traveller, the impact that has had on his life and how it will ultimately play out – this was biblical stuff.

For the overarching storylines of the series. Well a special mention goes to the Veritas saga. Debate rages on message boards across the land about whether or not writers had planned this from the start of the series. Regardless if they did – the Veritas storyline weaves together almost 7 years of storylines. Smallville has always managed to pull of the secret legends stories, particularly in Season 4 and 7. But there is a real epic storylines going in season 7. Other storylines worthy mention: the return of Brainiac – always a joy. Bizzaro is also great fun. Tom welling clearly enjoys playing a baddy instead of straight-laced Clark. That and he gets to wear a blue jacket and red tshirt, instead of vice versa. And Lionel finally meets his maker.

Technically this season shouldn’t have worked; the show’s main villain and arguably most popular character, Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) has now departed; secondly they were introducing a villain which was virtually impossible to bring to the big screen never mind a television series in Doomsday. However whilst a massive void had been created by Rosenbaum’s departure, it was filled suprisingly very well by the main cast of heroes who finally come into their own this season with performances and stories which intelligently test those who have big destinies to embrace in the Superman era to come. Tom Welling finally begins to take his final steps to becoming Superman and is starting to demonstrate how capapble as lead he is while bringing a new found presence to Clark Kent. There is also an increased number of on-screen scenes between Welling and Erica Durance’s Lois Lane and the result is a relationship which is as funny as it is touching and believable.

Likewise other support characters like Chloe and Jimmy are tested by the new villain in town, Sam Witwer’s Davis Bloome who is a great unique character to the series who undergoes a menacing and horrific transformation as the season unfolds. There is also a welcome return from Justin Hartley’s Oliver Queen who now becomes a series regular after a successful stint in the sixth season and a brief cameo in the seventh. Queen’s character is also successful to the season’s story as his questionable methods bring him into conflict with Clark who is now trying to figure out what sort of hero he wants to become.
The Doomsday story is a well written one in itself and Doomsday is interpreted in a way which is both unique in style yet never undermines the characters standing in the mythology. Sam Witwer is more than capable playing the villain, he lacks perhaps the charisma and flair of Rosenbaum, but the horror given off by his transformations is more than projected out of the screen. The same cannot be said for Cassidy Freeman whose Tess Mercer is terribly aimless and lacking in focus, in terms of a series villain, Rosenbaums absence is felt though not quite fatal.


The season is very well executed in tone, humour and story. There are many episodes which take the series much further and there are some more characters from the D.C Universe in episodes such as ‘Instinct’, ‘Legion’ and ‘Hex’. ‘Bride’, ‘Eternal’ and ‘Beast’ are also exceptional drama episodes featuring Doomsday which keeps building up the season to a final climatic battle.


It is unfortunate therefore that what prevents the season from achieving pure greatness is a series of misjudged stories which threaten to undermine every bit of progress Smallville made this season. The brief reintroduction of an old character in ‘Power’ and ‘Requiem’ was a terrible mistake and unpopular with viewers, as was the apparent demise of another important character. Also while the season does a sensational job in building up the tension towards the final episode, the final episode of the season itself is very weak and sadly anti-climactic. This is a shame since many may feel cheated by a poor resolution but on the plus side, the drama remains top notch throughout and the themes explored this season are never forgotten and never betrayed, even in the finale. Smallville has enjoyed a fantastic return to form overall this season and many fans will be left feeling hopefull of the action and drama to come in the ninth season. Well worth buying though this eighth season.

Season nine is the single greatest season Smallville has ever produced. The show has fully reached its potential and has created a tense, exciting, beautifully shot, clever and romantic season. One with interesting villains; conflicting needs; searching for the right questions; searching for the truth; love and hate and the fine line between it all; finding yourself and finding others. All with the strong undercurrent of destiny. There are around two ‘not so well executed’ episodes that fall short of their goals, but even those are not awful. The four or so main arcs of the season are: the return of a weirdly attractive and charismatic Zod, the blossoming relationship between Lois and Clark, the development of the Blur and the Justice Society. This is a season of triangles. Many carefully subtle and symbolic in nature: triangles between friends, triangles between enemies, the triangle for two. There was a distinct sense of care to this season, unlike the others — it actually felt as if the writers paid close attention to the small things which made the writing feel more cohesive. It’s certainly the case, because something as small as a hand gesture in one episode became a very significant thing later on.

The season opens with ‘Saviour’, as Lois miraculously returns without memory of where she’s been. The only thing hinting at a darker side to this is random flashes and visions, confusing memories. Are they dreams? Visions of a not-so-distant future? This is one of the mysteries of the first half of the season. I love this show but they I’ve never been so engaged as I have when Lois had those first flashes. It was well done and it was gratifying to see Smallville put together a coherent story arc which flowed into other arcs as the previous ones drew to a close. First time ever that I’d been excited to see where the mainplot went!

Tom Welling is now an executive producer so having more creative control over his character is obvious this season — it has a very positive impact on Clark. Clark finds himself being tested. Learning to cope with juggling an overly-inquisitive Lois, an alter-ego as the Blur whilst swiftly returning to his desk at the bullpen. But ultimately, a key theme of this season is his struggle to maintain a balance between who he is and what he could become. This season firmly asks: who will he become? There was some fantastic development for Clark as a character and his relationship with Lois Lane is centre stage the entire time. The writing for them is careful, precise, intimate and is wonderfully nuanced thanks to the actors. It was well established last season that Lois is in love with Clark, and Clark spends this season rightly demonstrating that he loves her back. The Lois and Clark relationship is one of my favourite arcs in season nine. It was so satisfying to see their romantic relationship moved forward without a painfully slow draw-out. There’s a lot of beautiful scenes shared between them and the writers do a brilliant job of showing (yes ‘showing’, not telling) exactly why Lois is the one for Clark.

Zod (Callum Blue) is a fantastic and compelling villain. His dalliances with Tess Mercer are mesmerising to watch. Oliver Queen returns, having hit rock bottom and kept going since the previous finale. There’s a triangle early in the season between Clark, Lois and Oliver. It’s very subtle and one can only be picked up on in a few frames a lot of the time — not something I’ve come to expect from Smallville, whose usual idea of ‘subtle’ is huge honking anvils landing on you when trying to convey something. It peeters away as Oliver grows and changes out of this darker period in his life. Lois develops as a reporter and finds a purpose in life she didn’t dream of before; her character arc was excellent and benefitted from Erica Durance appearing in 18 episodes instead of the usual 13 (yay!). We see the return of many superheroes as well as meet some new ones. I loved this as it’s one of my favourite parts of the series. I liked seeing Bart and Black Canary back in particular. Star Girl was awesome! The superhero epic Absolute Justice (two episodes smooshed together as one) was a highlight of the season and will surely make comic book fans happy. The finale, ‘Salvation’ was a fast paced good quality closing chapter. It set up the next season and moved the story forward at the same time as closing it. The finale fight scene also did not disappoint! For once! Salvation was very much a juggernaught of emotion which wasn’t cheap and empty like Doomsday, but had the weight of a great season of storytelling behind it. It really made all the difference.

This season is well structured with a fascinating story arc which sees time travel as a central concept. In many ways this plotline held far more tension and anticipation than the whole of the Doomsday arc did. I enjoyed feeling fascinated by Zod, insanely wanting answers as to what had happened to Lois when she disappeared, and could barely contain myself when all was revealed in the episode ‘Pandora’. Truly one of the best episodes of the series.

Smallville Season 10 is the culmination of a 10 year journey which set out to follow the life of a young Clark Kent as he accepts his destiny and becomes Superman. So did Smallville go out with a bang or a whimper?

I for one love the final season of Smallville….whenever you are trying to finish off a story it can be difficult especially with a character as iconic as Superman and with the weight of 10 years of expectation but amazingly it manages to produce an end that is befitting of a superman. This season really is all about how Clark Kent finally becomes Superman and almost every episodes deals with this acceptance of destiny. The season kicks of where season 9 ended with Clark Kent falling to his apparent death….this episode kicks off the season on the right note, with nods to the past seasons as well as hints for what the future holds. This season has so many memobrable episodes such as Homecoming, the 200th episode that is one of the best episodes have ever produced, other highlights include: Supergirl, Harvest, Abandoned, Luther, Icarus, Fortune (one of the funniset Smallville episodes ever!), Kent and Booster. You can see just by the number of episodes listed just how good the final season was.


However, what could make of break this season was the two part Finale in which we fianlly see Clark Kent embrace his destiny. I believe that this episode is one of the best finales ever produced, it is important to remember that Smallville is more about Clark Kent then Superman and as such this character takes the focus for the majority of the episode and it benifits for it. These episodes also include the return of Lex Luthor and I think that the scenes between him and Clark are perfect. Also, when Clark finally puts on the suit we get to see more Superman action then I’m sure anyone was expected. And the final scene is a perfect way to finsih the story.


Tom Welling has played Clark Kent for 10 years and every season we have seen him grow as and actor and a director and I think that he has managed to bring new life into this character and took him in a truely unique direction. Although, this show wouldn’t be what it is/was if it wasn’t for the rest of the supporting cast especially Erica Durance who in my mind is the best Lois Lane that the screen has seen and thanks to her acting she has become just as much of the Smallville story as Clark Kent himself.Thank you Smallville for 10 great years and for breathing new life into a an inconic character…you will be missed!

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED – SEASON 1-2

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CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
George Newbern (Superman/Shazam)
Susan Eisenberg (Justice League: Doom)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals Barrera (Camp Rock)

Image result for justice league unlimitedRECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kin Shriner (Manhunter)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Dana Delaney (Desperate Housewives)
Mike Farrell (Vanishing Act)
Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Dakota Fanning (Taken)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Patrick Bauchau (Panic Room)
Michael York (Logans Run)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Robert Foxworth (Syriana)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Billy West (Futurama)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Lori Loughlin (Full House)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
John C. McGinley (Highlander II)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Michael Beach (The Abyss)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Ben Browder (Farscape)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters 2)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Nestor Carbonell (The Dark Knight)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Denis Farina (Get Shorty)
Virginia Maden (Sideways)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Farrah Forke (Lois & Clark)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: DS9)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Juliet Landau (Buffy)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Jason Bateman (The Ex)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Nathan Fillion (Slither)
Elizabeth Pena (The Incredibles)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Robert Forster (Dragon Wars)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Powers Boothe (Agents of SHIELD)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
James Remar (Flashforward)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Malcolm McDowell (Heroes)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)

The first two seasons of Justice League were fantastic. Packed with action, humor and great storytelling the world of DC’s heroes came to life thanks to the collaborative efforts of the folks behind the rest of Warner Brothers’ successful cartoons. The show focused on the adventures of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, Hawkgirl and J’onn (the Martian Manhunter). They spent most of their time fighting established villains and trying to save the world from impending doom as you’d expect. When Justice League Unlimited (the show’s sequel series) was released it shook up the formula a bit and quite frankly, really felt like a new show.


The reason behind this different atmosphere was the change in the cast. The main seven characters were still kicking around but their ranks had swelled since the end of the original series. The basic premise was that the Justice League felt they could do better with more members. Many hands make light work and all that. Therefore anyone with superpowers that could do some good was offered a spot on the team.

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Not every character gets their chance in the spotlight but it certainly fleshed out the show with some of DC’s more obscure characters. Most of these episodes focus on the original characters though many of the rookies become involved in the storytelling. Being a longtime comic book fan, seeing more of these characters was definitely a thrill. Getting Green Arrow added to the ranks was probably the best addition to the show in my opinion, but Supergirl, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Black Canary and The Question definitely helped round things out. In all more characters were added to the series than the show actually featured so you can imagine the insanity that ensues. Many of these characters do get washed out thanks to the lack of coverage, but it’s not handled to the point that they become obscure or disrupt the quality of the show.

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There  are several episodes that made an impression on me. “Fearful Symmetry” was a very solid story that told a tale about Supergirl and really fleshed out her character. In it she is basically cloned and begins to have dreams that mirror the actions of her sinister clone. Green Arrow and Question get involved in order to help her out and we got to see some interesting facets of the DC Universe.


For my money “The Greatest Story Never Told” was probably my favorite episode. It doesn’t have a lot to do with anything and it’s a fairly weak story but it features Booster Gold as its main character. In case you are unfamiliar with Booster he’s basically a smartass guy from the 25th century who travels back in time for fame and fortune. He’s accompanied by a wisecracking robot named Skeets and finds himself not feeling the love from his other JLU teammates. In this episode he’s given the noble duty of crowd control while the League fights to save the world. There’s nothing particularly great about the story it’s just that I love Booster’s character and quite honestly, this episode was hilarious all around.
“Kid Stuff” was another fun episode that featured Morgan la Fey’s son getting his prissy little hands on a powerful amulet. The item makes him more powerful than his mother and he casts a spell that sends all adults to another dimension. In order to set things right Morgan turns Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern into kids so they can once again enter the world. As their younger selves the heroes start to let their juvenile side out and it’s funny to see Batman and Wonder Woman banter as if they were childhood sweethearts.

Overall Justice League Unlimited was a great show.  Any comic book fan, or viewer who enjoyed Timm’s other series, definitely owes it to themselves to check this set out. This release offers 26 episodes.


Unfortunately, as with all good things, Justice League Unlimited came to end. The show was cancelled before its time but luckily the crew was able to eek out another thirteen episodes before it went off the air. This season’s collection of superhero antics follows an episodic pattern but keeps an ongoing plot bubbling beneath the surface. The two-part adventures from the earlier sessions of Justice League went away with this season but the fact that characters reference previous episodes helps to keep everything connected.

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In the first episode of the final season of Unlimited Lex Luthor is on the run from the law after breaking out of jail. The affects of being joined with Brainiac are still being felt by him and throughout the episode you’ll often see Luthor talk to himself because he sees Brainiac standing next to him. When Gorilla Grodd offers Luthor a piece of Brainiac old baldy finds it hard to resist. He agrees to join Grodd’s Legion of Doom and work together with fellow supervillains to take down the Justice League. This set up continues throughout the season and you’ll find bits and pieces of it in each of the thirteen episodes.

In the second episode of this season the shadow of the Thanagarian conflict lingers as an archaeologist discovers something an Egypt. Shayera (Hawkgirl) is lured there by Carter Hall who tries to convince her that he is Hawkman. This was a nice throwback to the prior season and early Hawkman comic books but was certainly not the best episode in the set.

One of my favorite episodes from his collection easily has to be “Flash and Substance”. Four villains from Flash’s past team up to take down the red blur and they plan on doing it on the opening night of his new museum. Batman and Orion tag along with Flash in order to ensure that he’s ok. The writing in this particular episode was easily the funniest that Justice League ever produced. I particularly enjoyed the villains all sitting around the table at a dive bar talking about making their mortgage payments and whatnot.


Anyone who has ever considered themselves to be a comic book fan at some point in their lives will find something to love about Justice League Unlimited. From the very first season through the last of Unlimited the series offered quality unlike any other. This is a definitive comic book cartoon and stands shoulder to shoulder with WB’s Superman and Batman animated adventures. If you have been collecting the show to date then you’ll be pleased to know that the thirteen episodes featured here are as good, if not better in some cases, as what came before it.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Diedrich Bader (Vampires Suck)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Marc Worden (Ultimate Avengers)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
John Dimaggio (Futurama)
Tom Kenny (Super hero Squad)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Corey Burton (Critters)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Vyvan Pham (Generator Rex)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Mikey Kelley (TMNT)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Will Wheaton (Powers)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Jeff Bennett (James Bond Jr.)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Ellen Greene (Pushing Daisies)
Armin Shimmerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Tom Everett Scott (Scream: The Series)
Billy West (Futurama)
Jeffrey Tambor (The Hangover)
Paul Reubens (Gotham)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers II)
Peter Woodward (Crusade)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
James Remar (Flashforward)
Jeffrey Combs (Gothman)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
William Katt (Carrie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mark Hamill (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam West (BAtman 60s)
Julie Newmar (Batman 60s)
Dana Delany (Body of Proof)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and Thje X-Men)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Mae Whitman (Independence Day)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars: Revels)
John Michael Higgins (Still Waiting)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Henry Winkler (Happy Days)

There’s a gloriously meta moment in the back half of this season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold where the show’s producers are raked over the coals at Comic-Con. One of the twentysomethings in the crowd grouses and groans about how the Caped Crusader in the cartoon isn’t his Batman, and…well, he’s not wrong. DC’s comics anymore are joylessly grim and gritty…22 monthly pages of misery and scowling and torture and dismemberment and death and high collars and way too much crosshatching. Batman: The Brave and the Bold, meanwhile, is defined by its vivid colors and clean, thick linework. It’s a series whose boundless imagination and thirst for high adventure make you feel like a six year old again, all wide-eyed and grinning ear to ear.


You know all about The Dark Knight’s war on crime, and in The Brave and the Bold , he’ll duke it out against any badnik, anywhere. He doesn’t go it alone, either, with every episode pairing Batman up with at least one other DC superhero. Heck, to keep it interesting, The Brave and the Bold shies away from the obvious choices like Superman and Wonder Woman. Instead, you get more interesting team-ups like Blue Beetle (more than one, even!), Elongated Man, Wildcat, Mister Miracle, Kamandi, and B’wana Beast.
Other animated incarnations of Batman have been rooted in something close enough to reality. Sure, you might have androids and the occasional Man-Bat, but they tried to veer away from anything too fantastic. The Brave and tbe Bold has free reign to do just about whatever it wants. One week, maybe you’ll get an adventure in the far-flung reaches of space with a bunch of blobby alien amoebas who mistake Batman for Blue Beetle’s sidekick. The next might offer up Tolkien-esque high fantasy with dragons and dark sorcery. Later on, Aquaman and The Atom could play Fantastic Voyage inside Batman’s bloodstream, all while the Caped Crusader is swimming around in a thirty-story walking pile of toxic waste. He could be in a Western or a post-apocalyptic wasteland or a capes-and-cowls musical or even investigate a series of grisly something-or-anothers alongside Sherlock Holmes in Victorian England.

Batman has markedly different relationships with every one of those masked heroes. There’s the gadget geekery with an earlier incarnation of the Blue Beetle. With the younger, greener-but-still-blue Beetle, Batman takes on more of a mentor role.

More of a stern paternal figure for Plastic Man, and a rival for Green Arrow. Sometime it might not even be the most pleasant dynamic, such as a decidedly adult Robin who doesn’t feel like he can fully step outside the long shadow that Batman casts.

There are some really unique takes on iconic (and not so iconic!) DC superheroes here, and far and away the standout is Aquaman. This barrel-chested, adventure-loving braggart is my favorite incarnation of the king of the seven seas, and if Aquaman ever scores a cartoon of his own, I hope he looks and acts a lot like this. Oh, and The Brave and the Bold does a spectacular job mining DC’s longboxes for villains too, and along with some of the familiar favorites, you get a chance to boo and hiss at the likes of Kanjar Ro, The Sportsmaster, Kite Man, Gentleman Ghost, Chemo, Calendar ManKing, Crazy Quilt, and Shrapnel. The Brave and the Bold delivers its own versions of Toyman, Vandal Savage, and Libra while it’s at it, the latter of whom has the closest thing to a season arc that the series inches towards.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold is every bit as fun and thrilling as you’d expect from a series where every episode’s title ends with an exclamation point. Each installment is fat-packed with action, and the series has a knack for piling it on in ways I never saw coming. Even with as imaginative and off-the-walls as The Brave and the Bold can get, it still sticks to its own internal logic, so the numerous twists, turns, and surprises are all very much earned.

The majority of the episodes have a cold open not related to the remainder of the episode. Despite its episodic nature, if you’re expecting a big storyline in these 26 episodes, you’re going to be pretty disappointed as the extent of an overarching story in the season is the occasional villain that appears more than once, like Starro, but that’s really the only connecting bridge between episodes.

Season 2 contains one of my favorite episodes of not only this particular season, but probably in the entire series, “Chill of the Night!”, which goes back to Batman’s origins as Bruce Wayne learns more about the man who murdered his parents, turning him into the crime-fighter he would become, it’s one of the most well known origin stories in media, ever, but it’s done so well here. Another reason I love this episode is my blinding nostalgia for the voice cast.

The original 1960’s Batman, Adam West, guest stars as Batman’s father, Thomas Wayne, while Julie Newmar, who starred opposite of West as Catwoman from the original Batman TV show, plays Batman’s mother, Martha Wayne. My favorite Batman of all time, theatrical or not, Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman from Batman: The Animated Series and various other series/movies/games, voices the Phantom Stranger. Lastly, the baddie of the episode, The Spectre, is voiced by none other than Mark Hamill, the definitive voice of the Joker.

The Episodes in season 3 are wildly imaginative; so much so that purists will probably be put off, at least initially. They range from “Night of the Batmen”, where batman is incapacitated and it is up to Aquaman, Green Arrow, Captain Marvel, and Plastic Man to don the cowl, and keep gotham safe. As weird as that may sound, this episode is pure fun, and a joy to watch. Other stand outs are the never before seen in the states “The Mask of Matches Malone”, “Shadow of the Bat”, “Scorn of the Star Sapphire”, and “Powerless”.

Special mention has to be made of the final episode of the series however, “Mitefall”. In this meta episode, Batmite does a fantastic job breaking down why the series is ending, and the disconnect of the so-called “purists”, whose baseless, closed minded, ignorance eventually doomed this excellent series.

When all is said and done, we received three outstanding, and criminally underrated, seasons and it is a joy to see.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 1-4

Image result for batman the animated series logoMAIN CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Loren Lester (Flashforward)
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (Hot Shots)
Bob Hastings (General Hospital)
Robert Costanzo (Dick Tracy)
Melissa Gilbert (Zoya)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)
Mathew Valencia (Lawnmower Man 2)Image result for batman the animatedRECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager)
Neil Ross (Centurions)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Lloyd Bochner (Point Blank)
Marc Singer (V)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek:DS9)
Meredith MacRae (Petticoat Junction)
Michael Ansara (The Message)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Mari Devon (Howl’s Moving Castle)
Brock Peters (To Kill A Mockingbird)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Edward Asner (Up)
Josh Keaton (Green Lantern: TAS)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Diane Pershing (Centourions)
Ingrid Oliu (Real Women Have Curves)
Henry Polic II (Webster)
Tim Curry (IT)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Alan Rachins (LA Law)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
John Vernon (Dirty Harry)
Lindsay Crouse (Buffy)
Paul Williams (Adventure Time)
Aron Kincaid (Freakazoid!)
Heather Locklear (Return of Swamp Thing)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Adam West (Batman 60s)
Treat Williams (The Phantom)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Harry Hamlin Clash of The Titans)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
William Sanderson (Blade Runner)
Leslie Easterbrook (The Devil’s Rejects)
John Glover (Smallville)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Helen Slater (Supergirl)
Michael York (Logans Run)
George Dzunda (Crimson Tide)
John De Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Julie Brown (Earth Girls Are Easy)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Michael Gross (Familt Ties)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad men)
Jean Smart (Designing Women)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang Theory)
Marica Wallace (The Simpsons)
Marilu henner (Two and A Half Men)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Stephanie Zimbalist (The Story Lady)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Henry Silva (Ocean’s Eleven)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Andrea Martin (Anastasia)
Grant Shaud (Murphy Brown)
Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
Roy Dotrice (Beauty and The Beast)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Billy Barty (Masters of The Universe)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Billy Zane (Zoolander)
Mark Rolstan (Alias)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Michael McKean (Smallville)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Linda Hamilton (Chuck)
Billy West (Futurama)

Debuting on Fox in 1992, Batman: The Animated Series was immensely successful, garnering immense critical praise, taking home an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, and continuing in various forms for several years and well over a hundred episodes.First, the series is written and produced by people with a fundamental understanding of what makes the comics work, particularly during its peak in the ’70s under Dennis O’Neal and Neal Adams. As a long-time comics fanatic, it’s always welcome to see names like Gerry Conway and Marv Wolfman flash across the screen, and in the intervening years, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm have made their own impact on the four-color world. The tone is dark but not hopelessly grim, and the scripts don’t inundate viewers with patently obvious exposition or villainous cackling. It’s intelligently written and, while appropriate for a wide range of ages, doesn’t pander to a younger audience. I started watching Batman when it first debuted on Fox in 1992, and I appreciate it every bit as much now as a 34-year-old adult. The writers don’t shackle themselves to comic continuity, and their revisions are frequently more compelling than any other form in which we’ve seen Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Third-stringers like the Clock King and Clayface are given heavily revised origins and almost unrecognizable characterizations that are far more interesting than any other take on them.Batman boasts visuals that are as strong as the writing behind them. It’s incredibly dark; despite its Saturday morning/weekday afternoon origins, this is a series that greatly benefits from being watched at night with the lights off. The character designs are angular and exaggerated, in contrast to the rounded, ’40s-inspired props and backgrounds that further establish the distinctive, timeless look of the show. The detail and fluidity of the animation vary from episode to episode, but the better installments are almost jaw-dropping.

Following the visuals of the series, the next obvious subject to tackle is how it sounds. For me, Batman’s tone is one of the elements that really sets it apart from most every other animated series, and contributing greatly to that is the orchestral score in each episode. The series also has a phenomenal roster of talent contributing its voices. The main group — Kevin Conroy as the definitive Batman, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred, Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon — just nail their parts with complete perfection. Very recognizable names also contribute to villains and assorted supporting characters. A complete list would be prohibitively long, but some of the more notable actors and actresses from these episodes are Michael Ansara, Ed Asner, Adrienne Barbeau, Ed Begley Jr., Mark Hamill, David L. Lander, Heather Locklear, Kevin McCarthy, Roddy McDowall, Richard Moll, Kate Mulgrew, Ron Perlman, Alan Rachins, Marc Singer, Jeffrey Tambor, John Vernon, Adam West, and Paul Williams. The campy live action series from the ’60s also drew heavily from established Hollywood talent, but the difference here is that the actors don’t draw attention to themselves as stars.

This set has the show at the absolute top of its form. There isn’t a lame show in the bunch, and many of the episodes in this set are destine to become classics. Prechance to Dream, the second show in the set, is a wonderful look at what might have happened if Bruce Wayne’s parents hadn’t been killed. After being knock out while chasing some crooks, Bruce wakes up at home, uncertain as to how he got there. He’s surprised to find that the entrance to the Batcave is blocked, but even more astonished to discover that his mother and father are still alive. Bruce must figure out what going on, but in doing so, he knows he’ll ruin the happiness that he’s discovered.AlmostGot ‘im, probably my favorite show of the series. This story takes place during a “villain’s night out” where Batman’s main enemies aren’t committing crimes. They are all sitting around a table in a bar playing poker, relaxing. While talking, the conversation turns to Batman of corse. Like a group of fisherman swapping stories, each crook takes a turn telling the time that they were closest to killing Batman. The little vignettes were all full of action, and the framing story was very funny. A great combination, with an excellent ending line.
The Batman’s background story takes is fleshed out in a couple of episodes too. His early training plays an important part in Night of the Ninja, and I Am the Night introduces Dr. Leslie Thompkins who is an important person from when Bruce was young. Viewers get to find out just where the Batmoblie came from in The Mechanic, a great show that explains some aspects of Batman’s world that usually gets glossed over. Robin’s origin is recounted in Robin’s Reckoning, a two part story which won an Emmy. This story examines the bond between Batman and Robin, and why the Dark Knight agreed to raise a young boy.
The writing on the show is top notch. The show doesn’t dumb itself down to appeal to a young audience, the creators thought that if you have well written intelligent stories, kids would be attracted. They were right but the show also appeals to adults for the same reason.

One of the things Batman: The Animated Series does particularly well is infuse its villains with personality. They’re not a rotation of thugs with a different gimmick and costume each week — the writers go to great lengths to humanize these characters, and although they’re still unambiguously the bad guys, they still manage to be sympathetic at times. “His Silicon Soul”, following up on the two-part “Heart of Steel” from the previous collection, features a robotic duplicate of Batman unable to come to grips with the realization that he’s a machine.

The title character of “Baby-Doll” was created especially for the series. Think Webster with the race and gender reversed; Mary Louise Dahl was in her twenties but looked like a three-year-old, and she cashed in on that rare disability with a successful and hopelessly bland sitcom. An ill-advised career move derailed her as an actress, and a decade later, she’s systematically kidnapped all of her former co-stars in an attempt to reclaim those happy years. Again, as outlandish as the premise might sound, it really does work. You might smirk at reading about a teary-eyed Baby Doll attempting to fire an already-emptied doll-shaped pistol into a funhouse mirror, but the immeasurably talented writers are gifted enough to eke more pathos than I ever would have thought possible out of that.

Redemption, whether seized or tossed aside, is also frequently touched upon. “Sideshow” opens with a grueling chase between Batman and an escaped Killer Croc, who manages to stumble upon a remote farm that’s home to a group of former sideshow acts. They offer Croc a chance at an honest life, but old habits die hard. Another example is “House and Garden”. When a poisonous plant-creature starts a reign of terror in Gotham, Batman naturally turns his sights towards the recently-released Poison Ivy. She insists that she’s rehabilitated, and by all accounts, Ivy is happily married and living the mundane suburban life. The investigation continues to point back to her, and the final revelation involves some of the creepiest imagery ever seen in the series.

Harley Quinn is also featured in a couple of episodes centered around her attempts to stick with the straight ‘n narrow. She’s a fan favorite for a reason, and these appearances are some of the most memorable episodes in this collection. “Harlequinade” is a chaotic team-up with Batman in an attempt to track down The Joker, who’s managed to get his hands on a bomb that’ll turn Gotham into a smoldering mushroom cloud. “Harley’s Holiday” documents her release from Arkham Asylum, and even though she’s determined to leave that life of crime behind her, an attempt to legitimately buy a pretty pink dress at a store spirals into a bad day…a really, really bad day, culminating in being chased by Batman.

It’s particularly great to see the villains interact with one another. That’s part of the fun of “Trial”, which has a reluctant prosecutor attempting to defend Batman in an insane trial when the inmates take over the asylum. The flipside of that coin is seen in “Lock-Up”, when a cruel jailer’s overzealousness gets him fired from Arkham and compels him to hunt down the left-leaning scum he blames for the state of the world. Another stand-out is “A Bullet for Bullock”, an episode in which the slovenly detective is rattled by death threats and reluctantly teams with Batman, and the ending is just one example of how clever the show’s writers can be. “Clever” is also the first word that instantly springs to mind for “Make ‘Em Laugh”, an episode where The Joker co-opts a fellow criminal’s technology to create a small army of fumbling costumed criminals with inane gimmicks.

These episodes introduce a couple of recurring villains ripped from the pages of the comics. Most notable among them is Ra’s al Ghul, who makes his first appearance in a two-parter penned by Len Wein and Denny O’Neil, familiar names to longtime readers of Batman’s four-color incarnation. The centuries-old Ra’s has virtually unlimited resources at his disposal, equally intrigued by Batman’s boundless skills as a detective as he is frustrated by his foe’s determination to disrupt his machinations. Ra’s often lends a Saturday morning serial flavor to the show, from the globe-trotting in his first few appearances to the flared pants of “Avatar”. The charismatic character has such a presence that he’s able to carry “Showdown” largely by himself in an episode that barely features Batman or Robin in any capacity. “Showdown” is set during the westward expansion of the mid-1800’s as Ra’s’ opposition to the sprawling railroads is pitted against scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex (one of the few DC characters not connected with the Batman mythos to appear on the show). The other noteworthy recurring villain is The Ventriloquist, a fairly timid-looking middle-aged man who seems more likely to be a CPA than a ruthless crimelord. Taken by himself, that seems to be the right impression, but when he has his puppet Scarface on the end of his arm… The Ventriloquist’s first appearance, “Read My Lips”, is one of my favorites of the season, and he returns twice after that.
Several other characters from the comics briefly appear, including Maxie Zeus, the back-breaking, Venom-fueled Bane, and the fairly obscure masked criminals of The Terrible Trio. The majority of Batman’s rogue’s gallery is present and accounted for, with The Penguin, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, The Mad Hatter, The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Clock King, Catwoman, The Riddler, The Scarecrow, Two-Face, and Mr. Freeze all wreaking havoc throughout Gotham City at some point or another. Even with the opening titles shifting on disc three from Batman: The Animated Series to The Adventures of Batman and Robin, there’s no discernable drop in quality.

After Batman: The Animated Series wrapped up its long, successful run on Fox, a revised version of the series — with most of the same talent in tow — popped up as part of the animation block on Kids’ WB. This half of The New Batman/Superman Adventures, Although the general look of Batman: The Animated Series is still in place, many of the character designs have been revamped, making them sharper, more angular, and somewhat stripped down. Sometimes the changes worked; The Scarecrow is a much more ominous, disturbing figure now, and I like the exaggerated, deranged look of The Mad Hatter. Others didn’t fare so well, especially the much blander looking Riddler, and I have mixed feelings about the older, frailer Jim Gordon and the beady-eyed look of the Joker. One of the more distinctive changes is that the yellow moon on Batman’s chest is gone, an alteration that makes it easy to distinguish one of these episodes from the previous animated incarnation.

One aspect of Batman: The Animated Series that has always impressed me is that even though it was a weekday afternoon cartoon based on a popular comic book character, it didn’t pander to a younger audience. Rewatching the box sets Warner has issued over the past year and a half, I find myself as engaged by them now in my mid-thirties as I was when I first saw them half a lifetime ago.

The New Batman Adventures is a odd mix because even though many of the stories seem geared towards a younger audience, the censors have lightened up, so the villains can use words like ‘murder’ and ‘kill’ more freely, its female characters (especially Harley Quinn) are less subtle with the sexual innuendo, and there’s even a little blood. Over the Edge, one of my favorite episodes of any of Batman’s animated incarnations, with batman hunted by  by Commissioner Gordon as his men spray gunfire throughout the Batcave in a frantic chase against Batman and Robin. It’s a dark, unflinchingly brutal story about loss and betrayal, showing the Dark Knight at his lowest point with his identity exposed and facing greater adversity than he ever has before.

It’s not all dark and dour, though. Another favorite is “Joker’s Millions”, which opens with the Joker struggling with his finances. Robots, hyena chow, Joker venom, and overly elaborate death traps aren’t cheap, but he gets an unexpected windfall when a dead mobster leaves the flat-broke Joker a quarter-billion dollars in his will. The Joker goes on a spastic spending spree, bribing everyone in sight into wiping his criminal record clean, but…whoops. There’s a catch, of course, and the Joker’s not the one who gets the last laugh.

the Joker also take center-stage in “Mad Love”, an episode penned by Paul Dini that was later spun off by DC into a graphic novel. “Mad Love” takes a look at how ambitious, straightlaced psychiatrist Harlene Quinzel could become infatuated with a psychotic madman like the Joker. The Joker’s far more interested in cobbling together some sort of complicated trap to knock off Batsy than fooling around with his eager-to-please henchwoman, so she tries to get her puddin’s attention by rehashing one of his unused schemes and getting rid of Batman once and for all. This is the sort of character-centric episode that I thought really defined Batman: The Animated Series, and “Mad Love” ranks with the best of the series.
“Legends of the Dark Knight” is another personal favorite, paying homage to some of Batman’s different incarnations over the decades. Dick Sprang gets the first nod in a segment with Batman duking it out with the Joker in a music museum with all of the puns, oversized props, and four-color action you’d expect from a Golden Age comic, followed up by a deeply impressive segment with Frank Miller’s hulking, fifty-something Batman squaring off against an army of mutants in the future. The side story with a few kids getting tangled up in an arson-for-hire gig with Firefly doesn’t stack up to the rest of the episode, but who cares?
There are a few other episodes worth pointing out. “Girls’ Night Out” is set with both Batman and Superman out of town, leaving Batgirl and Supergirl to square off against Harley, Poison Ivy, and electrifying Supes-villain Livewire.Dick Grayson, the original Robin, has struck out on his own as Nightwing, and he’s highlighted several times — first in “You Scratch My Back”, which teams him with Catwoman, much to Batman’s chagrin, and again in “Old Wounds”, where Grayson tells Batgirl why he could no longer fight alongside the Dark Knight. The episodes on this box set also introduce The Creeper, the demon Etrigan, and Firefly to the animated series,  Villains like Two Face, The Mad Hatter, Catwoman, Clayface, Mr. Freeze, The Scarecrow, The Ventriloquist, Bane, Killer Croc, Baby Doll, and, briefly, The Riddler also return to torment Gotham again.

REVIEW: GOTHAM GIRLS

CAST (VOICES)

Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Diane Pershing (She-Ra)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Bob Hastings (McHales Navy)

Gotham Girls is a direct-to-internet series of animated shorts. Written mostly by Paul Dini, these shorts feature several of the supporting characters that made Batman: The Animated Series so much fun to watch. Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Batgirl (to name a few) turn up regularly. Amazingly – especially given that is is Web Animation – the results are fantastic. Sure, the animation is limited, but it serves the short stories well and the economical style suits Bruce Timm’s character designs perfectly.

Each mini-installment of Gotham Girls takes a humorous look at some of Gotham City’s female characters. Most of these are quite good, with a wit that just isn’t found in many cartoons shown on TV recently. The animation reminds me a lot of how the Hanna-Barbera studios were originally able to use limited-animation as a technique (rather than as a crutch) – we never notice how limited the animatioon actually is, because it’s done so well. The voice work, as in the TV series, is always superior to practically everything out there, and the music leans towards a lounge-retro mood.

The ultimate triumph of Gotham Girls belongs to Paul Dini. Dini wrote many of Batman’s best episodes, and is a prime force behind Superman and Batman Beyond. While an awful lot of his recent work (including his War on Crime collaboration with artist Alex Ross) comes across as ponderous, Gotham Girls is quick witted, succinct, and sharp as a Batarang’s blade. Yes, these shorts are comical but that’s the point. Dini is clearly having fun with the DC Comics characters, and I’m having fun watching him.